Last Friday Night at the Nashville Boogie Weekender was a royal affair featuring both the Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson, and the Queen of Outlaw Country, Nikki Lane. After soaking in a fabulous performance from Ms. Jackson, I was on the run to the Nashville Palace Stage for Lane’s rocking country barn-burner. Luckily, the party was just getting started.
The Palace was near capacity as it seemed the entire festival was converging to take in Lane’s show–easily the largest audience I witnessed at a Palace show, with only Wanda Jackson competing for the largest crowd of the whole Boogie. As I made my way to the front of the room, the energy was palpable. Fans were singing along, dancing, cheering–Lane had the room on its feet.
Lane also came dressed for the occasion. For me, a concert is all about the music, but Lane’s custom Nudie-inspired suit was the perfect match for her throwback, outlaw country style, and accentuated her music. As much as her suit drew attention, it’s Lane’s badass presence and infectious songs that allow her to standout in the now crowded Americana/outlaw country scene. Whether singing about drinking, smoking with Willie Nelson, or burning love, Lane exudes an air of danger and fire that excites the heart; in concert, she channels all of this energy through a voice that ranges from innocent to gritty. “Any day or night time is always the right time/Is always the right time to do the wrong thing,” she chanted in the chorus of her hit “Right Time.” Those lyrics are not simply a persona, but embraced by Lane–you might get in trouble if you hang out with her but you’ll have a hell of a lot of fun in the process.
Featuring driving drum beats, electric guitar solos, and perfectly-timed flourishes of pedal steel, Lane’s set made for a raucous honky-tonk celebration. She seamlessly slipped in and out of features with her stellar supporting band, a group that loves to play music and does it well together. The show closer, her new fiery single “Jackpot” from her album Highway Queen, put the band’s talents on display as Lane pushed them into a country-rock frenzy. Both performer and audience had to catch their breath when it was over. From head to toe, from voice to soul, Nikki Lane is exactly what country music needs.